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Henry Franklin Tribe
William Clayton Pool (1919–1995).
Historian and educator William C. Pool taught history at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State History) for some forty years. Photograph of Dr. William C. Pool, University News Service Morgue File, University Archives, Texas State University.

POOL, WILLIAM CLAYTON (1919–1995). William Clayton Pool, historian, author, and educator, was born at Valley Mills, Bosque County, Texas, on February 2, 1919. He was the son of William Cutbirth Pool and Beth Anne (Snider) Pool. His father worked as a farmer for most of his life in the Bosque Valley and in 1926 built a new home for the family east of the Bosque River. Like many farmers in the 1930s, the family found it almost impossible to make a living during the Great Depression. Believing the University of Texas provided greater opportunities for his sons, William and Barry, William Cutbirth Pool relocated the family to Austin in 1937. 

William Clayton Pool attended the public schools in Clifton and entered the University of Texas in 1937. In September 1939 Pool received permission to take an advanced history course from Eugene C. Barker, who became his friend and academic advisor for his undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 1941 Pool graduated with a degree in history from the University of Texas at Austin. That same year he married Sarah Jeannette Yeager, a math teacher. They had one daughter, Mary Ruth. After graduation, Pool found employment teaching high school history and serving as an elementary school principal in Buffalo, Texas, in 1941 and 1942.   

With the nation having entered World War II, Pool enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Forces in 1942. After completing flight training in early 1944, Pool was assigned to the Pacific Theater. Over a twelve-month period, he flew cargo planes along the China-Burma-India route and carried supplies to ground forces in Burma and China. After more than 800 hours of combat time, Pool’s crew was rotated home. For his military service, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters. 

Discharged from the military in the summer of 1945, Pool returned home and pursued history graduate degrees at the University of Texas at Austin. Studying under Eugene Barker, Walter Prescott Webb, and Roy Bedichek, Pool earned his M.A. (1946) and Ph.D. (1949) degrees. His dissertation, “An Economic Interpretation of the Ratification of the Federal Constitution in North Carolina,” was supervised by Barker and later published in The North Carolina Historical Review. With recommendations from Barker and Webb, Pool accepted a faculty position at Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University) in San Marcos in 1947. Thus began a career of some forty years.

William Pool earned a reputation as a respected scholar at Southwest Texas State University. His various interests led him to write about numerous aspects of the state’s history. Early in his career, he published “The Battle of Dove Creek,” an account of a Civil War conflict between Confederates, Texas State militiamen, and migrating Kickapoo Indians, in The Southwestern Historical Quarterly in 1950. For twenty-one months, Pool’s academic pursuits were put on hold by the Korean War. Recalled to active duty by the U.S. Air Force, he served as a pilot training instructor at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma, until his discharge in December 1953. 

Because of his interest in his native county, Pool wrote A History of Bosque County, Texas (1954), which was an outgrowth of his M.A. thesis, and Bosque Territory: A History of An Agrarian Community (1964). With his military experience as a pilot and his interest in aviation,  Pool authored “The Origin of Military Aviation in Texas, 1910–1913” in The Southwestern Historical Quarterly in 1955. An admirer of Southwest Texas State alumni Lyndon Johnson, Pool (with Emmie Craddock and David Conrad) wrote Lyndon Baines Johnson: The Formative Years (1965). As a tribute to his friend and mentor, Pool published Eugene C. Barker: Teacher and Historian (1971). He also authored, with maps provided by Edward Triggs and Lance Wren, A Historical Atlas of Texas (1974). The Texas State Historical Association named Pool a fellow in 1957. His many memberships included the Organization of American Historians, American Historical Association, Southern Historical Association, and Great Plains Historical Association.

Besides his writing activities, Pool became involved in numerous activities during his tenure at Texas State. During his early years there, he served as faculty sponsor of the Student Veteran’s Association. From the late 1940s into the 1970s, he was active with the school’s baseball team, serving as the squad’s coach for a time, and promoted the sport in general. A Democrat, Pool also served three terms on the San Marcos city council in the 1960s. He also was a member of the San Marcos Equal Opportunity Committee. In the classroom, Pool taught American, Modern European, British, and Mexican history courses. He was granted professor emeritus status in 1991.  

William Clayton Pool died on April 30, 1995, at the age of seventy-six. He was survived by his wife Jeannette, daughter Mary Ruth, grandsons, and a great-granddaughter. In his honor the history department at Texas State University established the William C. Pool Endowment to fund scholarly publications of department faculty.


Bosque County History Book Committee, Bosque County, Land and People (Dallas: Curtis Media, 1985). Dr. William C. Pool, Interview by Kent A. Krchnak, November 13, 1985, Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos. William Pool Papers, The Wittliff Colections, Texas State University. “Southwestern Collection,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 99 (July 1995).   

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Henry Franklin Tribe, "POOL, WILLIAM CLAYTON ," accessed July 13, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpool.

Uploaded on September 11, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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